Opinion: The Cooler should bring milkshakes back to the menu

Issy Chalmers/The Occidental

The Cooler needs milkshakes. It just makes sense.

I fell in love with milkshakes at the Creamery, a restaurant in my hometown. The Creamery is special to me because my friends and I would always celebrate big milestones there, like birthdays and our high school graduation. The retro style of the Creamery’s dimly lit booths, comfy seats and jukebox gave it the casual ambiance of an old-timey diner that the Cooler is only a few notches away from.

The Creamery wasn’t just a head above every other restaurant in my hometown because I shared so many precious moments with friends there — they sold the best milkshakes I’ve ever had. They were so thick and creamy, full of chocolate flavor from the Ghirardelli syrup they would add to the vanilla ice cream and milk. The milkshakes would be served in the towering metal malt cups that they’d be hand-spun in, and needless to say they were worth every cent.

I miss the Creamery’s milkshakes, and it irks me that milkshakes aren’t served at the Cooler because the two establishments are so similar to me. I think that being able to stop in the Cooler on a hot day and share a milkshake with a friend would be a great addition to the campus dining scene. Don’t get me wrong, the Cooler already has an amazing dessert selection. There’s a dozen types of ice cream bars and the fruit smoothies they make are fabulous. But what’s one more? My former teammates on Occidental’s cross country team would often reminisce about the pre-COVID-19 pandemic milkshake scene at the Cooler. Since returning to campus, the Cooler has done away with milkshakes and scoops of ice cream. But the fact that they’ve existed in the recent past gives me hope that milkshakes could return to the Cooler again.

One possible way to bring milkshakes to the Cooler would be to replace one existing dessert option with them. The Cooler currently sells frozen, chocolate covered bananas. I tried one of these unorthodox desserts once, it was unique yet difficult to eat. Eating a frozen, chocolate dipped banana without sitting down with fork and knife is a puzzle I’m not prepared to approach in public. What’s worse, the bananas are $7.50 a pop before the student discount, which is more than a burger. These expensive frozen fruits should be replaced by milkshakes.

In an interview with the Occidental last year, Erik Russell, the college’s assistant vice president for hospitality and auxiliary services, described how nationwide labor shortages and inflation in food prices have challenged Campus Dining to not pass on rising costs to students. It’s difficult to speculate about the feasibility of buying a commercial drink mixer and stocking ice cream, but doing away with the frozen bananas would certainly help offset costs.

Campus Dining and Hospitality Services have done a great job of innovating the dining spaces on campus. Last semester TVs were installed in both the Cooler and Marketplace, which were added to each establishment at no cost to the school through Occidental’s agreement with AtmosphereTV. Campus Dining has also enabled students to submit any questions, comments or suggestions they have about the dining experience via an online suggestion box.

I urge anyone who feels as passionately as I do that the Cooler should serve milkshakes to use the suggestion box to make their voice heard. I love the ambiance of the Cooler when it fills up late at night with the post-dinner crowd. Coming in alone and finding different friends each night highlights the Occidental community I cherish. Not only is the rich, creamy and sweet taste of a milkshake just special, but milkshakes are meant to be shared. Adding them to the Cooler’s menu would bolster the convivial atmosphere that makes Occidental’s dining experience unique.


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